The new Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulations surrounding the sale of nicotine vaping products and e-cigarettes are set to cause wide-spread confusion across the petrol and convenience (P&C) channel.
The regulations, which came into effect on 1 October, stipulate that consumers can no longer purchase nicotine vaping products in Australia without a GP prescription.
Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), has called for more clarity on how the new model will impact retailers and their operations.
“Retailers are expecting to see some confused customers in the coming weeks and months. We have been left in the dark on how this impacts convenience stores around the country. We are still unaware of what we can communicate to consumers on the new regulations and whether that violates the tobacco act in some states. We need information to share with our members urgently.”
Those wishing to purchase vaping products have been told they must now consult a GP and use that prescription to either visit a pharmacy or order products from overseas, a move which could send tens of millions of dollars offshore in a time when retailers are desperately trying to recover from the economic hardship of COVID-19.
Confusion understandably arises as the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has previously been on the record as stating, “the Guild is opposed to having these products in any schedule that would allow for sale in a pharmacy. The Guild does not support the sale of personal vapourisers in pharmacies, regardless of whether or not they contain nicotine”.
It is the AACS’ belief that nicotine vaping products should be available at existing licensed tobacco retailers.
“We stand ready as responsible tobacco retailers who are trusted by our consumers to give smokers seeking a less harmful alternative and supply that to them. What the Federal Government is doing is locking smokers out of a far less harmful product, denying Australians who smoke the opportunity to reduce cigarette consumption or quit smoking altogether.
“We are calling on the Health Minister Greg Hunt to clarify the immediate impact on the retail sector and move to review these laws at the earliest opportunity,” said Foukkare.